Underneath the strong façade of a courageous woman, there lies a story, a history that molded the woman she is today.

The video, WOTL: Miriam’s Greatest Hits, posted in YouTube last February 22, 2012 by tv5theeveningnews showed a compilation of Miriam’s greatest hits. It collected her statements which have left a big mark in our minds and which have made a big impact in our country.

Miriam Defensor-Santiago, born Miriam Palma Defensor on June 15, 1945, is Judge-elect of the International Criminal Court and a member of the Senate of the Philippines. She became globally famous because of her courageous and brilliant crusade against corruption in the Philippines. As a result, at 43, she was named Laureate of the Asian Nobel Prize, known as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service. She was cited “for bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a graft-ridden government agency.”

Speaking of this very respectable lady, we would all think about the distinctive manner of how she presents herself and how powerful she relays what’s on her mind. Miriam was widely featured because of her charisma, flamboyant personality, and her signature witticisms. The video is an actual illustration of the kind of woman Miriam is. Looking at how she behaves, when she’s not feeling very good about what’s going on, we would see a wild monster in her, a character who truly hates imperfection, one who has very high regard for excellence. When she is at her light moments, she seems to be a best friend material. Looking at the contrast on how she behaves on two opposite moods, it is apparent that Miriam Defensor-Santiago is a normal human being who simply reacts to circumstances bluntly without hesitation.

“May amats ata si Miriam”, the video would say. “May amats”, another term Filipinos use for “may tama” or “may sira” or “may deperensya”, meaning she might be crazy or out of her mind or mad, because of the way she acts, the way she speaks and the way she does things. Little do we know that digging deeper, there might be something about her that turned her into the person she is today. There is a story beneath the image that she chooses to live with.

In an article written for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation in their site, http://www.rmaf.org.ph, Miriam as a child is said to have learned to come off strong at an early age. Being the eldest daughter among seven children of a district trial judge and a school teacher, much is expected from her. She was raised to be excellent. She managed to excel in everything she set her mind into. Young as she was, she learned to take charge early in life. As an intelligent child, she was running the household well before she was out of grade school. Her mother, a career woman then, eschewed housework, saw responsibility for the daily marketing, supervised the family’s untrained village maids and made sure that the Defensor brood arrived on time and well-scrubbed for weekly catechism classes. Discipline was her mother’s byword, and young Miriam came to recognize her authoritarian, achievement-oriented environment as “the natural working of the universe.” Her mother had long since instilled in Miriam a drive to fill every moment with worthy activity. This drive propelled her into a life of super-achievement.

Her childhood has made a big influence on how she handles and treats circumstances in her personal life and even on our country today. The person Miriam is today is just the result of the past; there is nothing abnormal about it, considering that every individual has a past from which the present is derived from. Miriam’s past just happened to be a constructive one, having developed her to a very confident individual, who never feels inferior in the presence of powerful men.

“Hay naku, ang boring talaga ng buhay pag wala si Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.” This statement was said and was emphasized in the video, WOTL: Miriam’s Greatest Hits, where all her most memorable lines were presented. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, being one of the few women in politics, understood well that she has a message to relay to the public. She is assertive in presenting her ideas and achievements for she stands tall and believes in her cause, thus making her one of the favorites of the media. Miriam became the darling of the press, both national and international. The media, who have a crucial and increasing role in shaping the image of politicians, did not act as mere mirrors of the social and cultural traditional patterns, but also have become an agent of change. Miriam has become an object of change, being the person that she is, women in politics were given a voice. How the integration of women into politics strengthen democracy was understood by the media, therefore having the crucial and increasing role in the democratic process, have become more open to the concerns of the female politicians and have tried to convey their messages in all possible ways. A fairer image of women politicians was promoted more and more.

Miriam Defensor-Santiago is truly a face of strong femininity. In the descriptive aspect of femininity, she considers herself at par with men, demanding equal rights. She has her own perspective on ideas and beliefs about how culture can be and should be different. She has her set of goals, ideals, and visions.

Miriam, as a person, represents women of power. She is an embodiment of excellence and an icon of a strong Filipina. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago truly made a big impact in our society.

Watching her video clips, we would initially have a negative impression of the kind of person she is. Basing on the fact that she is a public figure, no matter how high her standards in excellence may be, it is yet unacceptable for her to name call people, because just like her, every individual has a past that affected the person that they are.

Nobody is perfect just like her, that is why calling people “gago”, “bobo” and the likes would never be acceptable, in fact it is a violation of a person’s reputation, some sort of a character assassination. One’s excellence and perfection never put her in the position to judge and humiliate others, considering the fact that we are created with individual differences. Her position and achievements do not make her any better than anyone else, basing on the principles of equality among men. She is in fact expected to set good examples, being an iconic female figure who has all the power to make an impact and take part in making the world a better place. If she would only uphold God’s words and grace in her daily walk, she could even be a lot better than the powerful woman that she is right now.

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WOTL: Miriam’s Greatest Hits, dissected. – The story behind the face of strong femininity.

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